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Lou Reed's ''Magic and Loss''

Lou Reed’s ”Magic and Loss” — Although it’s ready and shipped to critics, the album release date has been postponed

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Lou Reed’s new album, Magic and Loss, is a gripping, deeply felt work many critics have been enjoying for months. But you won’t be able to hear it until January. Why? Because by then — after the hoopla over the new records by Michael Jackson, U2, Guns N’ Roses, and Hammer dies down — maybe you’ll be more inclined to buy it.

”The record was slated for late August,” explains Bill Bentley, senior publicist at Warner Bros. Records. ”Lou happened to be looking at a Billboard story about all the upcoming releases for September and October and felt that this record needed more room to breathe, and find a life.” Because CDs of Magic and Loss had already been pressed, Warner shipped several to critics — most of whom have long been in Reed’s corner — to allow them time to absorb it fully.

Reed’s decision was astute — and not far removed from what has become standard industry practice for all but the best-selling superstars during the crowded fourth quarter of the year, when consumer shopping is heaviest. Also postponed-and thus not competing against the seasonal flood of live albums, best-of compilations, and multidisc boxed sets — are new releases by Luka Bloom, the Ramones, and El DeBarge, among others. So don’t tell record companies to sit on it — they already do.